Sander, Daniëlle & EmilyOur Family life...

Our Family life...

Sleeping like a baby…

I already wrote about the Nestcam in the last blogpost but I now finally had some time to play with the footage.

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Tonight Emily was all over her crib. This is a time lapse from about two hours condensed into 1 minute and 12 seconds. It’s in black and white while captured in night view, I’ll ry to create a color version somewhere in the future while she is sleeping during daytime.

The movie is generated with the support of nest aware and edits like music and text are done with iMovie for iOS on my iPhone while Emily was sleeping like a baby on my chest. Just click on the “play” button and enjoy the relaxing nap of Emily…

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Twinkle Twinkle little star…

It took me a while to get back to post something new on our page but I guess everyone understood that we where quite busy. Besides two trips to New York City, one trip to Europe (Germany & The Netherlands) we also needed to prepare for a new chapter in our life.

This new chapter started on the 24th of December when Danielle woke me up with the news that we were pregnant. And only 223 days later (7 months, 11 days) later  on the 4th of August our little star, Emily Jane was born at 17:35. While Emily was a little bit earlier as expected, the estimated due date was the 23rd of August, we were not fully finished but I would say we were 98% there. But at least her room was ready for her arrival.

About that room, first it was meant to be my home office with an amazing view but on the day we found out I first cancelled my glass desk and office chair. And then we found out that we were limited on what we were allowed to do since we could not paint the room or change the carpet. But we still found some ways to give the room a make over.

First we started with the furniture and after a long search we came across a store in downtown Toronto selling European style furniture from different brands. The store is called Ella+Elliot. After some doubts about the colours we went with a white crib and a white changing cabinet from the Eicho line from Spot on Square.

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Since the room is really big for a nursery we had some space left for a nursing chair. We went with a glider from Monte Design, a Canadian brand in Heather grey with white piping.

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Now all the major furniture was picked we could started with looking at the decor of the room. In a star bright moment we remembered something we had seen on the internet a couple of years ago, a polka dot wall. But since dots are kind of boring we went with stars for our little one. After some measuring with self printed stars we went with 4″, 5 point stars. We found the perfect decals on at FlukeDesign and while ordering I found out the owner of the shop lived in Toronto, after some chatting only a couple of minutes driving away.

The evening we got the decals I started with using some of my math skills from college since I needed to find the exact spots to put the decals. I used the Pythagorean theorem. I never expected that this was something I would use in real life but these was one well spend year of studying. After getting the calculations done and while using the right tools, a self sticking laser level and a measure tape the wall was finished within less than 3 hours.

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After finishing the wall we added some shelves to the wall, at first I thought this is as easy as all the other walls in our Condo. But soon I figured out that the wall wasn’t made from drywall but it was reinforced concrete wall… Lucky for me colleague Sean had a powerful drill for me to borrow and in about 30 minutes the 4 IKEA shelves were mounted.

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While a baby sleeps during day time and our place has floor to ceiling windows you want to be able to make it dark too. Unfortunately the standard window coverings were not ideal and we wanted something else. At first we requested a quote by a professional company and with 2.500 Canadian Dollar we start searching for alternatives. Somehow we didn’t think of IKEA but they had a very clever solution for drapery for much more reasonable price. And it was installed in only a couple of hours.

So far the room is very neutral in colour and we planned on adding some pink to it. We ordered custom-made curtain tie-backs through Etsy from Dragonsliar64 funny thing is that I didn’t look at where they came from before I paid and they are made in Australia. But within 3 weeks they arrived in Toronto.

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Since the wall of stars is pretty big we wanted a center piece for it. We were browsing the web for ideas for a very long time and didn’t find exactly that what we were looking for. We discussed putting her name up on the wall but decided against it. Until we had the idea of a reclaimed wood solution, but the reclaimed wood doesn’t come in the colours we wanted it to be in.

All of a sudden I found something on google: Bouncing of the Walls This is an online store which recreated items looking like reclaimed wood from new material. In our case we had exactly in mind what we wanted to have. The owner was so kind to send us colour samples of the pinks they had available (over 10 different pinks). After picking the colours, and the text: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star we needed to wait another 4 weeks before we received it and it was worth the wait…

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The room was finished. Or at least the standard parts. I also added some technology to the room since I love my gadgets. First we started with some nice lighting while the standard light bulbs where just to bright. We wanted to have dim-able lights in the 3 standard fittings we had on the ceiling, after stepping over the price we went with the Philips Hue Starter kit. Combined with the iOS App iConnectHue and the widget this is an awesome solution. We went with a pink coloured preset, a 20% candle light preset to start with. Danielle was an instant fan and before Emily was born we added 3 more Hue bulbs and 7 Lux bulbs to our condo. And to finish the lighting solution in Emily her room we added Hue Tap to easily control the light without needing to think of bringing our iPhones in the middle of the night.

Besides lighting we added also some baby security to the room with the brand new Nestcam. The camera detects motion and let’s us look into Emily her room from anywhere int he world, the image quality is remarkable and the night vision feature is much better as expected. And it’s just amazing to look at Emily while she is sleeping without being in her room. That combined with a AngelCare AC401 (donated by my sister) we have the ideal baby monitoring solution with the movement sensors, the remarkable sound quality of the AngelCare and the Nestcam.

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And we added a 3rd zone to our SONOS system, the baby room zone. Just before we wanted to order a SONOS Play:1 for Emily her room my interest was caught by a tweet from @SONOS about the limited edition Play:1 Tone a full white version of the speaker. That was an exact fit in Emily’s room. After ordering the first one we decided a second one for Stereo sound the day after. And I can tell you we listened a lot of lullabies in that Zone already. It’s sounds perfect and it’s so relaxing. And sometimes it’s party through the whole condo when we group all zones together!

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And not to forget we also think about old school music with “Horst” the music star!

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And not to forget an old-fashioned money bank! Isn’t he lovely?

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As you can imagine this was a really fun thing to do while preparing for the arrival of our little princess!

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Home improvements…

It has been a while since our last update from Toronto but a lot has happened since then. Let me start with a post about home improvements today and I’ll try to catch up this week with more about our trips the last 2 months. After we got back from Florida we first got our new chair. It’s a very lazy chair and the way it’s positioned in the living room I can enjoy our both of our extraordinary views while only turning my head.

After the chair we started looking for baby furniture, for everyone who didn’t figure out which secret we told Mickey Mouse: Danielle is pregnant from our first child! After we start looking for furniture we found out that the choices in Canada are quite limited compared to what we are used to in Europe. It’s a couple small speciality stores here in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) or online stores. We also visited a baby show together with one of my pregnant colleagues which we enjoyed and where we learned a lot more about important things for Canadian parents. We got to know a couple of new stores too.

After a couple of weeks of research we learned that a lot of furniture and strollers we did like had delivery times from up to over 12 weeks. We ordered our furniture and the stroller at Ella+Elliot in Downtown Toronto. This made us decided to order as soon as we made the choice. So in March we already found the things we’d like to see in the rooms and by the end of this month they will be delivered, a bit sooner as expected but that’s not something we’d be worried about. You are curious now? I hope you like surprises since you’ll need to wait till September to see the first pictures online…

In between the improvements we travelled to Europe and New York but I’ll write about that in later blogs. After we came back from New York they finally cleaned our windows, not something you should do yourself while living on the 38th floor off course. But we would wish they did it more often as once a year.

And that was also the start of really nice weather which made us decided to a balcony overhaul. We started with a nice grass-green coloured outdoor carpet which I cut to fit perfectly. To honour my work I got a nice bottle of Crown Royal Monarch whiskey from Danielle.

But that wasn’t where we stopped I found a nice set of furniture which would fit exactly onto our balcony at the IKEA website. Just after store opening we entered the IKEA in Vaughan and 40 minutes later we were driving back home to set up the furniture. And 2 hours later we enjoyed the nice weather and the remarkable view from our balcony…

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And since we were n the IKEA mood and wanted to add some more storage inside our walk-in closet I picked up the IKEA Stuva later that week.

Besides the fact that our plant is still alive there is not much to mention about home improvements. But the King and Queen from the Netherlands are coming to Canada on an official state visit in May. On official visits they always meet with a part of the Dutch Community and we are part of that meeting. We are both really excited about it and are curious about how such an event will be. So far we went shopping for the appropriate clothing, the dress code is “Tenue de Ville”. For man this means a dark suit, for woman a dress which covers the shoulders and reaches to the knees. And that’s not something every pregnant woman has in her closet so we went shopping this weekend.

Unfortunately it’s not allowed to take any pictures during the event but we’ll make sure to write something about it on a later blog.


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Going south…

It’s been a while since our last blog post, but here is the update from our trip to Florida.

After visiting Niagara Falls in the freezing cold and snow on Saturday, on Sunday we needed to wake up really early because my flight to Orlando was leaving at 06:20 am from Toronto so at 04:15 am the taxi was waiting for us downstairs and 45 minutes later we arrived at the airport. Of course my passport was not accepted at the Air Canada kiosk so we needed to wait in line to get my baggage tags. This was not moving at all so Sander got a little irritated and eventually we were allowed to go through the priority lane. But when you think it was over after this you’re wrong. We also needed to go through customs (yes the US Customs are already at Toronto airport) and after that there is the security check. It was stressful but 10 minutes before the boarding time we arrived at the gate to see that my flight had a 30-minute delay. Reason for the delay was that they had problems (??) getting the airplane out of the hangar.

After one hour we were finally ready to leave Toronto. Actually I did not mind the delay because Sander’s flight was leaving 2 hours later and I was going to wait for him at Orlando Int. Airport. The flight was OK for a 2,5 hour flight and my suitcase was almost the first one to arrive at the baggage belt. After that I looked for a place to eat while I was waiting for Sander’s flight to arrive. Unfortunately his flight was also delayed due to passengers who were stuck in customs/security at the airport. But after I had an early lunch and changed my Toronto-outfit for an Orlando-outfit I only needed to wait a little more and Sander was already standing next to me. Sander also changed his outfit at the airport and we went to look for the shuttle to bring us to Sixt rent-a-car just a little offsite of the airport. After a little wait we got our car, which was a Mini Cooper Countryman and we were on our way to our hotel.

The first part of this trip we were staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Orlando at Seaworld. This hotel is near the Orange County Convention Center where Sander is going to work the next couple of days.

As soon as we arrived at the hotel and checked in we leave for Epcot. Epcot is our favourite Walt Disney World Park. After getting our tickets at the “will-call counter” we’re entering the park.

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First thing we do is going to the Character Sport to get our picture taken with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. There was only a 5-minute wait and we got ourselves a special picture with Mickey.

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The rest of the day we do some attractions in Future World, also with Fast Pass+. I’m not sure if I really like this system, I just think I have to get used to it. Sander does TestTrack and Mission Space and together we do SpaceShip Earth and Soarin’. Then it’s time to leave Future World behind us and walk to World Showcase. I like this part of Epcot the most, it’s just great to walk around and see the different countries around the World Showcase Lagoon. We also got ourselves the MagicBand.

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At 09:00 pm we watched Illuminations: Reflections of Earth from the German pavilion and after this amazing show we leave the park and drive back to the hotel.

On Monday we both wake up early. Sander because he needs to go to the Convention Center and I am going to Disney’s Hollywood Studios today. I’ve got Fastpasses for Toy Story Mania, Stunt Show Spectacular and the Beauty and the Beast show. Unfortunately there is a lot of construction going on in this park and there is no parade. I wanted to get my picture taken with Baymax and Hiro, but the line was soon long, I think it was over one hour. So I just took a picture of Baymax and then decided to leave the park. tonight I wanted to see Fantasmic! and I needed to get my vest at the hotel. At 05:00 pm I was back in the park and after I bought myself something to eat and drink I entered the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater and got myself a great spot, right in the middle. I think this was my best spot ever for this show. And then the waiting started, more than 90 minutes but I had a nice woman sitting next to me and we talked about everything and before we knew it the show was about to start. I know I say it al the time and I will keep saying it, this show is amazing and gives me goosebumps every time I watch it, especially the part where Mickey Sorcerer appears at the top of the mountain at the end of the show!
After this show I left the park and drove back to the hotel, where Sander and his colleagues were waiting at Bonefish Grill for dinner.

On Tuesday I went to Magic Kingdom. This park was really busy and there was a lot of construction going on but I had my Fastpasses. So I went for Peter Pan’s Flight and Winnie the Pooh. Afterwards I had a photo shoot with Elsa. Shortly after that it started to rain so I decided to get back to the hotel because I was going to rain almost all day long. I relaxed a bit at the hotel and in the evening Sander and I went back to Magic Kingdom to see Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes! Lucky us, it stopped raining and we enjoyed both shows.

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On Wednesday I was going to visit Animal Kingdom. As I entered the parking lot an already saw 5 cranes in the parks, also here a lot of construction going on. Here I had Fastpasses for Finding Nemo the Musical and Festival of the Lion King. I also went to see Flights of Wonders for the very first time. All really great shows, but that is just what Disney does best. You can watch them over and over again. I realised that if you’re pregnant in this park there is not a lot you can do (no Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Primeval Whirl). And also in this park there is now parade anymore, so after I did those shows I left the park and went for lunch outside of the Disney Parks.

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For lunch I had some strawberry banana pancakes at IHOP, just delicious! Lunch was followed by shopping at the Lake Buena Vista Factory Outlets and while I was there Sander already called me that they were done at the Convention Center so I drove back to the hotel and we spend the rest of the evening shopping at the Mall at Millenia and the Florida Mall.

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On Thursday Sander did have to work and we were going to change our hotel. We started this day at Magic Kingdom and he finally could ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, twice, because he also had my FastPass. We did some more attractions with almost no wait time and watched the Festival of Fantasy Parade. A nice parade with great music, but for my opinion a little bit to short. We saw the parade twice, first in Frontierland and at the beginning of Main Street USA before leaving the park. Before we went to the Hollywood Studios we went to our hotel to check in. The last 3 nights of our short vacation in Orlando we were staying at the Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista.

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We stayed here once in 2009 and the hotel is still great. After bringing our luggage to our room we went to the Studio’s for Fantasmic! and again we had a really good spot but had to wait for more than 90 minutes, but still worth it. As soon as Fantasmic! was done we got to our car as soon as possible and drove to Epcot to see Illuminations to end the day! Tired but satisfied we drove back to our hotel.

Friday was a rainy and cold day so we only went to the parks in the morning to use the Fast Passes we booked in the Hollywood Studio’s. Sander started with a FastPass for the Tower of Terror and together we went in Toy Story Mania, and guess who won….. I did for a change! Hahaha! Due to the bad weather we visited Downtown Disney and had a relaxing afternoon, Sander jumped in the hot-tube while I sat on our balcony. In the evening we went for diner with Ronella (colleague of Sander) and David in the Applebees in our hotel.

The Saturday we started with a really healthy and late Dunkin’ Donut breakfast before we went shopping. Due to the really bad weather we decided to visit as much indoor malls as we could find. In the evening the weather finally got better and we went to the Longstar Steakhouse for dinner. Rested as we were we packed our suitcases and left our hotel early at the last day of this trip to visit Animal Kingdom. We had a couple FastPasses for rides and the Nemo musical. As soon as we used them we left the park towards Epcot!

In Epcot the theming for the upcoming Flower and Garden festival was already visible. I’ve to say we really came in a spring mood today. After getting a lot of rides done and a picture with Duffy we ended the day with a trip to Spaceship Earth. And then it was time to leave for the airport.

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We dropped of the car and everything was fine. Within 10 minutes we arrived at the airport where Air Canada messed up once again. The lines where crazy at the Air Canada counters. We split up Sander went for the kiosks and I stood in the regular line since most of te time my passport isn’t recognized due to the “ë” in Daniëlle. And this was the case today, the line I stood in didn’t move at all and it was probably at least a 1,5 hour wait. But Sander got himself including me in the Priority Check-inn lane, don’t ask how but in only a couple of minutes we walked through customs. We joined Ronella and David and had a lot of fun while waiting for our boarding time. And the boarding again was a chaos. But Sander got us in the pre-boarding… We had fun seeing all the people board the plane with to large cabin luggage which didn’t fit in the overhead-bins. Just to funny…

The flight went by fast and we arrived even a bit early at the airport. Since we needed to go through the international customers at the airport we arrived at the baggage belts within 5 minutes after exiting the plane. We figured we need to wait for our suitcases, but not 1,5 hour…

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Except for the chaos caused by Air Canada and the other things which belong to flying this was a nice escape from the cold winter in Toronto.

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